A sad day for all at the Zoo

A sad day for all at the Zoo

#Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo

Posted on 05th October 2010 by Media Relations

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is mourning the passing of Yum

Yum, our much loved African Elephant.  We

estimate Yum Yum at 42 years of age, she has been the matriarch of the African

Elephant herd at Taronga Western Plains Zoo since they first arrived on the

12th December, 1977. 

Over the years we have tried to find out information about

her origins, we only know the records state she was wild caught in the early

70’s as an orphan, we believe somewhere in Kenya.  Yum Yum, along with Cheri, Cuddles and David,

travelled from Longleat Safari Park in the UK to Australia on a P&O

ship.  We have recently had emails from a

gentleman who shared the trip over with them and remembers them docking at Fiji

where all the locals came to bring them banana palms as they had never seen an

Elephant before.  They quarantined at

Taronga Zoo in Sydney before travelling out to Dubbo by truck. 

Over the years, two other African Elephants Toto and Congo

joined the herd, both they as well as Cheri and David have now all passed on

and with Yum Yum’s passing, Cuddles is the last of the African Elephants in


Yum Yum was a fantastic matriarch.  She was level headed, calm and often

stubborn!  She was very intelligent and

would learn a new behaviour within a day or two.  In recent years Yum Yum and Cuddles have

enjoyed learning a variety of new behaviours as part of a more intensive

approach to their management.  This

ranged from various husbandry behaviours to more fun things like kicking a ball

around, sucking and blowing water, pushing large tree stumps around, waving and

painting.  Yum Yum was a vigorous

painter, as with most things she was all brawn (as you would expect with 4.7

tonnes behind you!).  She could cover a

canvas with a few quick brush strokes and loved to do blow paintings.  Whenever we got the easel out, Yum Yum would

start making her gurgling noise which was a sign of pleasure. 

This gurgling noise was unique to Yum, it was the first

sound to greet us as we arrived in the shed in the mornings and as she waited

for her breakfast.  She would also gurgle

constantly whilst drinking from HER hose, a green garden hose we would hook up

to the warm tap for her morning drink.

By far the highlight of Yum Yum’s day was her early morning

walks with Cuddles.  If we were too slow

getting ready to go, she would go outside and stand at the gate, just to hurry

us up!  Yum Yum loved to explore new

areas around the zoo, but her favourite place to visit was the old browse pile

at the back of the zoo and she would always speed up when we headed in this


Yum Yum was well named as she loved her food.  She would often collect treats in her mouth

and then stand and suck on a wad of goodies going into what we called ‘a Yum

Yum trance’.  So when Yum Yum stopped

eating on Saturday keepers and vets knew that she was not going to come through

this most recent digestive upset.  Yum

Yum was put to sleep on Sunday morning surrounded by keepers and vet staff that

loved her.  She was stoic and brave until

the end, giving kisses to keepers right up until she went to sleep.  She was one of a kind and has left a huge

hole in the hearts of the Elephant team at Dubbo.

Goodbye Yum Yum and thank you for 33 years of giving

pleasure to visitors and staff at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, you will be

sorely missed.- Elephant Keeper team at Taronga Western Plains Zoo